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> > > Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Hijinx Theatre and Frantic Assembly
photo of a group of performers in red jump suits

Frantic Assembly's two-week residency with Hijinx Theatre Company led to a participatory performance at the Wales Millennium Centre, as part of The Unity Festival

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger is an exciting new piece, which was performed as part of the Unity Festival at the Wales Millennium Centre. The piece was the outcome of a fortnight's residency with an inclusive group of performers. Tom Wentworth was there to review the collaboration.

Anyone who has knowledge of Frantic Assembly’s work will be aware to expect the unexpected. This piece sought to explore the idea we all have unique attributes. The first section was uncomfortable but striking as the entire cast entered uniformly dressed in black crash helmets and space suits; carrying metallic briefcases. Themes of  identity and individuality were then explored in a variety of ways; through movement, where performers created beautiful duets and group work. Text was used sparingly but well. When the briefcases were opened cast members approached microphones to impart ‘confessions’ to the audience. For example, one performer had a preserved frog stored in her briefcase!

One of the most evocative sections of the piece was about the unique nature of DNA. Both the language and the movement were moving without being sentimental. Every movement and action was as bold as the last and each performer showed a real sense of clarity of intention. This combined to create a performance which felt assured and drew a large crowd to the evening's performance in the main auditorium!

After the performance ended, on invitation, I was keen to explore the contents of each briefcase. Many of the objects were intensely personal  - containing old photographs alongside objects and text. Also included were video clips of each performer revealing their reasons for wanting to join the residency and more about their special 'power' or attribute. This was a highly engaging addition to the piece, although it was a shame that there was only one screen on which to view the clips. I would have enjoyed having a selection of interviews perhaps being made available online giving extra resonance and reach to the project.

However, it cannot be understated what an achievement it was to create the work from scratch in two weeks. This impressive 30 minute inclusive piece of theatre was both intimate and revealing, showcasing the energy and passion and passion of all who took part. More power to further collaboration between Hijinx and Frantic Assembly!